The Devil We Know

30 06 2010


How many times have you made a decision because it was the easiest, safest, or most convenient one, but not the right one?   It’s seems to happen quite often in business and our personal lives when we stick with the devil we know.  This happened to me yesterday as I was spending my day with an out of town event promoter.  He came in for a market visit to scope out the location a group of colleagues and me had chosen for a new event we want to create and his company to produce.  In our minds the venue was perfect.  It was in an area that fit the wheelhouse of the demographic we wanted to reach, we held another successful event at this same venue earlier in the year, and we had a pre-existing win-win partnership with the folks there.  Like a great pair of jeans, it just seemed to fit.

Here’s what was wrong with this equation.  We wanted it to work with this venue….I wanted it to work with this venue.  There is something to be said for replicating success, after all, our earlier event there was a HOMERUN.  The big difference is that the event we had and the event we want to create are extremely different from one another.  While the venue fit hand in glove for the one event, the new event would have been like sticking a square peg in a round hole.  It took a complete stranger to slap me back to reality by using phrases like – “There is no customer service here, no hospitality.”  “This place conducts itself like it isn’t going to be around next year.”  “With the caliber of event you are trying to create, this venue doesn’t have the right feel.”  “What do you want the ultimate outcome to be?”
Talk about a buzz kill.  We walked back to the car, drove off, and for what seemed like an eternity neither of us spoke.  When the dialogue started back up, he said he knew I was disappointed.  I said, “No, I’m not disappointed – I’m thankful.  Thankful that you didn’t sugar coat things and were honest and up front with me on what you thought.  After all, you are the expert in your field when executing these types of events and setting your partners up for success.”

There is a happy ending to this story.  He and I drove around for the next couple of hours scouting out alternate locations.  Just like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, we found a suitable replacement…a better choice, and what will hopefully be the perfect location.

I am normally dead set against choosing the Devil We Know. I will fight to the bitter end against something if I feel we are making the wrong decision.  I know how easy it is to cave and go to silly extremes to avoid pain, like pulling off the bandage hair by hair!   In this case, it took someone on the outside looking in to get me to see the forest from the trees.  What hit home the most was getting VERY clear on what the outcome is we are looking to achieve.  Since most people avoid getting clear first, it was only natural to end up hanging onto the devil we know.  I will chalk this up to experience and appreciate the fact I can learn from it.  Thanks Mike for the gentle nudge back to reality.




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